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by the way


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Northwest Community Evangelical Free Church                                                Then, as the church‟s senior pastor was driving Dr. Williford to
                                                                                   the airport after the congregational meeting and as they were turning into
(May 10, 2009)
                                                                                   the airport parking lot, the pastor turned to Craig and said,
Dave Smith
                                                                                   “By the way…, it is our practice at this church for all the staff to wear
Sermon manuscript
                                                                                   white suits to church every Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor
Sermon Series: Operation Liberation!
                                                                                           That‟s a “by the way…”

By the way…                                                          Study #3             It‟s an expectation placed on someone AFTER a deal is done that
(Galatians 2:1-10)                                                                 had never been mentioned during negotiations.

                                                                                           Have you ever been “by the way-ed…”?
Introduction: How to spot a “by the way…”
                                                                                            Schools can “by the way…” you when a teacher tells you
         On Wednesday of the week that I was in Minneapolis, the Board of          something about an assignment they hadn‟t mentioned until AFTER you
Directors was interviewing a candidate for the position of President of            turned it in.
Trinity International University.1
                                                                                           Employers can “by the way…” you by adding to your job
         We were all impressed with this candidate, and, after an hour of so       description AFTER you sign on the dotted line.
of the interview Dr. Craig Williford was enthusiastically and unanimously
recommended to become the school‟s next president. That recommendation                     Be on the watch for “by the ways…”
will be voted upon at this summer‟s National Free Church Conference in
Minneapolis.                                                                               They can sneak up on you. And when they do sneak up on you,
                                                                                   they are very unsettling. They are irritating. They lead to feelings of
        Near the end of the interview, Dr. Williford‟s wife, Carolyn, asked        resentment. A person who is “by the way-ed” feels taken advantage of.
the Board a question, “Before we conclude, are there any „by the
ways…?‟”                                                                                   We have every right to expect that the same rules will apply after
                                                                                   the deal is done that were in place during the negotiations. When the rules
        In case you don‟t know what a “by the way” is, let me explain.             change after the ink dries, we feel blindsided.

        Carolyn asked this question because of an experience they had                        In no realm of life is a “by the way…” more unsettling than in the
suffered years earlier when Dr. Williford had taken a position as an               life of faith. Today we are going to watch as some folks in the first century
associate pastor of a large church in Colorado Springs.                            tried to “By the way…” certain Christians into a very different arrangement
                                                                                   with God than the one under which they were brought in.
        The candidating process went great and the vote was overwhelming
positive to bring him on to the church staff.                                              And - by the way - if this particular “by the way…” had won the
                                                                                   day, the face of Christianity would have been forever changed.
 That would be the combined Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Trinity College
and Graduate School, and the Trinity Law School.
        And it likely would have won the day, except for the courageous                   As we continue to trace Paul‟s Christian history, we turn to
actions of the Apostle Paul.                                                      Galatians, chapter 2. Here, he reminds his readers of a second trip he had
                                                                                  taken to Jerusalem.
The life and times of Saul of Tarsus/the Apostle Paul
                                                                                          From the book of Acts, we know that he had been sent there by the
         Over the past two Sundays, we‟ve spent a good bit of our time            church in Antioch.
tracing the life and times of Saul of Tarsus, the man who became the
Apostle Paul.                                                                     Paul Travels BACK to Jerusalem (vv. 1-2)

         Saul was one of the most violent persecutors of the church in the                [Galatians 2:1] Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up
first century. But, following his “Damascus Road experience” (when Jesus          again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.
appeared to him in a blinding flash of light and spoke to him) Saul was
converted and then was welcomed into the church he had intended to                Back to Jerusalem, with Friends…
persecute in Damascus.
                                                                                          When he took this trip to Jerusalem Paul had been a Christian for
        He immediately began proclaiming that Jesus was, in fact, the Son         fourteen years, and he had been away from Jerusalem for about ten years.
of God (Acts 9:20). After evangelizing for a couple of years in Arabia, an
attempt was made on his life in Damascus. He was rescued by being                        That‟s a long time! And during those ten years he had been
lowered in a basket outside the city walls of Damascus by the Christians          maturing as a Christian, spreading the Gospel, serving the Lord.
                                                                                         Mostly he had been serving the Lord by serving the church at
        From Damascus Saul traveled south to Jerusalem to get to know             Antioch. And during all this time, he had made many good friends in
the Christians there. A first century hero, Barnabas, extended the right hand     Antioch - Jewish friends and Gentile friends.
of fellowship to Saul, which led to him being accepted by that church.
                                                                                           As he made his way up to Jerusalem (south, but “up” in terms of
        He stayed in Jerusalem for only a couple of weeks because a plot          elevation), he traveled with two of these friends - Barnabas (a Jew) and
quickly formed to kill him in Jerusalem, as it had formerly formed in             Titus (a Gentile).
Damascus! And as had happened in Damascus, this plot was foiled when
the Christians in Jerusalem spirited him away to points north and west.                  Why had they traveled to Jerusalem? Paul tells us that it was
                                                                                  because of a revelation.
        Saul spent the next several years (about ten) near his hometown of
Tarsus, growing in Christ and serving the Lord in relative obscurity.             Why Go to Jerusalem? (see Acts 11:19-30)

       But when Barnabas asked him to join him in a team ministry in                       [Galatians 2:2] It was because of a revelation3 that I went up; and
Antioch, Saul went with him, forming the first real (ministry) Dream              I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I
Team!2                                                                            did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be
                                                                                  running, or had run, in vain.

 This is probably the time in which believers were first called “Christians” in
Antioch (Acts 11)                                                                     This is what is often referred to as the “famine relief visit” recorded in Acts 11.
        If you were a Christian, things were tough in the city of Jerusalem.           And, not having access to Fed Ex or wire transfers, they hand-
But then, things were tough for everybody in Jerusalem during this time        delivered the money, [30]…sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to
frame because of a famine that had hit the area.                               the elders.

      This famine had actually been predicted by a Christian prophet                   Now, it is only through Paul‟s letter to the Galatians that we know
named Agabus who prophesied in Antioch.                                        that Paul and Barnabas were accompanied by another brother from
                                                                               Antioch, a man named Titus.
       [Acts 11:27] Now at this time some prophets came down from
Jerusalem to Antioch. [28] One of them named Agabus stood up and                        Luke doesn‟t tell us that Titus went along, but Paul brings it up
began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great          when relating the story to the Galatians because what happened to Titus -
famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.4      or, rather, thankfully, what did NOT happen to Titus - is completely
                                                                               relevant to the reason Paul is writing Galatians in the first place.
        Evidently, the famine was especially hard-hitting in Jerusalem. But,
on top of the famine and the hardship that came with the famine, Christians    Test Case for “Faith Alone in Christ Alone” (vv. 3-5)
in Jerusalem were also suffering persecution.
                                                                               No “by the ways” for Titus (v. 3)
          The church had been dispersed throughout the Roman Empire
following the stoning of Stephen. Many strict Jews saw Christianity as a              [Galatians 2:3] But not even Titus, who was with me, though he
renegade faith while the Romans saw Christians as trouble-makers (after        was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 5
all, their Leader had been crucified - talk about guilt by association!)
        So, due to the dire straits in which the believers found themselves,
Christ-followers in Antioch decided to do something about it!                          Titus, who shows up in several of Paul‟s letters (he was even a
                                                                               recipient of one of those letters), is never even mentioned in the book of
        To demonstrate the unity that exists in the Body of Christ, they set   Acts.
out to help their suffering brothers and sisters in Judea.
                                                                                       From Paul‟s writings, though, we know him as a solid Christian
        [29] And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means,        man, well-known and highly esteemed in the early church. And he was one
each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the           of Paul‟s most trusted fellow-laborers in the Gospel.
brethren living in Judea.
                                                                                       But, like many of the second generation Christians, Titus was a
        This was a tremendous affirmation of the unity of the church of        Gentile, not a Jew.
Jesus! Believers cared for each other in tangible, material ways. Love was
going to be fleshed out through the gift of cold, hard cash.                          Among other things, this meant that he had not received
                                                                               circumcision, a physical mark made on the body of a Jewish male.
        This - demonstrating the ties that bind Christians - is what
prompted the believers in Syria to send emissaries from the Gentile world
of Antioch to the Jewish world of Jerusalem.
                                                                                Note the treatment of Titus, as opposed to that of Timothy. Timothy, being half-
                                                                               Jewish was circumcised, Acts 16:1-3. Why circumcise Timothy, but not Titus?
                                                                               Titus was a full-blooded Gentile, but not Timothy. Paul yielded to the weak
    Claudius was the Roman Emperor from A.D. 41-54.                            brethren, but never to the false brethren, as here in Galatians.
        Circumcision                                                                        Paul, Barnabas and Titus had come to Jerusalem to bring money
                                                                                   for relief from the famine. The gift was no doubt gladly received, but some
         In Old Testament times, circumcision identified a male as a               in Jerusalem were demanding that Titus be circumcised6
member of God‟s family. It was very important among the Jews and was a
rite established by God at the time of Abraham, about two thousand years                    Maybe even more than that, circumcision was urged in order for
before Christ!                                                                     Titus to prove that he was a true Christian, or to make him a true Christian.

      Titus‟ uncircumcision made certain people in Jerusalem very                         Well, if they wanted Titus circumcised, so what? What‟s the
uncomfortable.                                                                     problem?

        They reasoned, “God‟s people have always been circumcised. Why                     What‟s the harm?
should that be any different for people who believe in Jesus? If Titus wants
to be saved or to lead a God-honoring life, let him be circumcised.”                       After all, it would ease the concerns of some in Jerusalem. And
                                                                                   except for the pain of a little surgery it wouldn‟t do any harm, would it?
        What would you say to that logic? Well, Paul had a few things to
say about it and Titus‟ situation functioned as a critical “test case” for the            Well, this was no minor issue. At stake was truth that was central to
early church.                                                                      the Gospel itself. A pastor and theologian, John Stott writes forcefully
                                                                                   about what was going on here.
        Test case
                                                                                   “Paul saw the issue plainly. It was not just a question of circumcision and
         In the early church, Jews who put their faith in Jesus had no             uncircumcision...It was a matter of fundamental importance regarding the
cultural barriers to overcome.                                                     truth of the Gospel…The Christian has been set free from the law…[and]
                                                                                   his acceptance before God depends entirely upon God‟s grace in the death
         They stood in a long line of traditions and beliefs that led to Jesus -   of Jesus Christ received by faith.
monotheism, sacrifices and offerings, God‟s involvement with the nation of         To introduce works of the law (i.e. - circumcision) and to make acceptance
Israel, Sabbath-keeping, dietary restrictions, circumcision - and more.            depend on obedience to rules and regulations is to bring a free man into
        But now Gentiles were putting their faith in Christ. Hmmm… How             “Titus was a test case. It is true that he was an uncircumcised Gentile, but
should they be treated? What expectations should be placed on them?                he was a converted Christian. Having believed in Jesus, he had been
                                                                                   accepted by God in Christ, and that, Paul said, was enough. Nothing
        Would there be any “by the ways…”?                                         further was necessary for his salvation, as the Council of Jerusalem was
                                                                                   later to confirm (see Acts 15).”
         “Oh, by the way, Titus, we know that nobody mentioned this to you
before, but you should know that you will be expected to wear white robes                 If Titus had been compelled to be circumcised, what message
to worship every Sabbath from Passover to Pentecost.” Or “By the way,              would he and other Gentiles have clearly heard about Christianity?
Titus, one little detail about being a Christian - you have to keep the
Sabbath and the laws of kosher.” Or “By the way, Titus, you need to be             6
                                                                                     What they were really trying to do was to put Christianity INTO Judaism. They
circumcised.”                                                                      wanted Christianity under a system of law. They would have said that faith in
                                                                                   Christ, and then circumcision, were only the first steps in making a person
        Titus was a believer in Jesus AND uncircumcised.                           complete in Christ. Titus also would have had to continue down the road to
                                                                                   Judaism and keep all the Law. Once the camel‟s nose of a “Jesus and” Gospel gets
                                                                                   into the tent, the rest of the camel is sure to follow!
       Simple - that faith in Jesus is NOT ENOUGH to save. It still                      And third, there was a mediating group - perhaps “the pillars”
depends on something he had to do. It is “Jesus AND.”                            Paul mentions in verse 9 - who didn‟t think Titus needed to be circumcised
                                                                                 to be saved or to honor God. They just thought it would be a good idea to
        Paul would not allow this!                                               circumcise him out of deference to those who had difficulty with Titus not
                                                                                 being circumcised. (the ones Paul describes as “false brethren”)
        He stood firm against these men and refused to let them circumcise
Titus. He stood firm because it was true to the gospel to not treat Titus in a           Well Paul didn‟t cave and here‟s why.
way that made him into a second class citizen of the Kingdom of God.
                                                                                         It is OK to yield to weaker brethren. It‟s OK to yield to folks with
        Paul refused to let there be a “by the way…” because he knew that        tender consciences. It‟s OK to bend your behavior so as to not cause others
to have yielded to the pressure to have Titus circumcised would have meant       to stumble.
a compromise of the Gospel itself.
                                                                                          But it is not OK to alter your behavior to placate legalists, or when
        That‟s acting out of conviction and it took guts!                        that alteration of behavior compromises or confuses the truth of the Gospel.
        Well, the upshot of Paul‟s intervention was that Titus was
welcomed into the church there in Jerusalem just as he had been in Antioch               Titus was spared circumcision, and with that controversy quelled,
- with open arms. Like the song says, “just as he was.”                          Paul and the pillars of the church at Jerusalem had some fellowship.

        How strongly did Paul feel about this issue? Listen.                             Not that Paul counted on them for affirmation…

Standing up to Legalists (vv. 4-5)                                               Separate but Equal Ministries (vv. 6-9)

        [4] But it was because of the FALSE BRETHREN secretly                    Independence (v. 6)
brought in, who had SNEAKED IN to SPY OUT our liberty which we
have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into BONDAGE. [5] But we did                   [Galatians 2:6] But from those who were of high reputation
not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the       (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—
gospel would remain with you.                                                    well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.

        The way I read this is that there were three groups with three                   Paul‟s not being unfriendly here. He just had to make it clear to the
perspectives on the issue in Jerusalem.                                          Galatians that he stood alone - independent from Jerusalem‟s influence -
                                                                                 when it came to his apostolic ministry.
       First, there were Paul and Barnabas who refused, on principle, to
circumcise Titus, believing that to do so would be to subscribe to a “Jesus               He had received NOTHING from the Jerusalem leaders with
AND” message.                                                                    respect to authority (after all, he had been commissioned by the Lord Jesus
                                                                                 Christ). And he had received NOTHING from them with respect to the
        Second, there were the “false brethren” (these would be non-             content of his Gospel.
Christians) who would have compelled Titus to be circumcised for
salvation. They held to a “Jesus AND” Gospel.                                           But, while on the one hand he and the Jerusalem pillars were
                                                                                 independent, on the other hand, they were interdependent.
Interdependence (vv. 7-9)7                                                                  Of course that‟s what Paul was eager to do. That‟s why he and
                                                                                    Barnabas and Titus had come to Jerusalem in the first place - to remember
        [Galatians 2:[7] But on the contrary, seeing that I had been                the poor!
entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to
the circumcised [8] (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his                         But I also say “hats off to the „pillars‟” of the church at Jerusalem.
apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the                Here, these folks were destitute and hungry AND they were urging Paul
Gentiles), [9] and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James           and Barnabas that when they made their way back home to Antioch they
and Cephas8 and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and                not forget to serve the poor.
Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles
and they to the circumcised.                                                                I‟m thrilled to say that it is something that our church is doing more
                                                                                    and more of these days. Thanks to some great organizing and cheerleading
        Both Paul and the pillars recognized God had given them “separate           from Rhonda Olson and her Food Pantry Team and to outstanding
but equal” ministries.                                                              generosity from YOU, our church is handing out bags of groceries to folks
                                                                                    on an almost daily basis.
        Clearly, the group from Antioch and the group in Jerusalem were
energized, equipped, and commissioned by the same God with the same                         And, thanks to your generosity toward the Benevolence Fund, we
Gospel. But, their ministries were focused differently.                             have been able to serve people in our church who are in great need and
                                                                                    have also helped a number of folks in the community with utility bills
       Peter (and the rest of the pillars) primarily ministered to Jews; Paul       (making payments straight to CPS) and other necessities.
(and Barnabas and Titus) primarily ministered to the Gentiles.
                                                                                            Helping those who are struggling to make ends meet is one great
        And that is OK! They were committed to the same Gospel. Jesus -             way to say, “Jesus loves you” to folks who many times are desperately in
period. Faith alone in Christ alone. No “by the ways…”                              need of His touch.

         Their conversation ended on a high note as they agreed on a                        Serving the poor is really, really important.
distinctive that should mark all Christian ministries. They were of one mind
when it came to an overwhelming passion to serve the poor.                                  But hold it!

Identical Heart for Love (v. 10)                                                             By highlighting the importance of ministering to the poor, have we
                                                                                    just added a “by the way…” to the Gospel? Have we done exactly what the
       [10] They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I                false brethren were doing in saying that Titus had to get circumcised to be a
also was eager to do. 9                                                             Christian?

  Making clear to the Galatians that he stood alone - independent from Jewish
influence - he told them that the leaders of the Jerusalem congregation had
contributed nothing to him. NOTHING in respect to his apostolic authority (after
all, he had been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ) and NOTHING with
respect to the content of his Gospel.
  Cephas is the Hebrew/Aramaic word for “rock.” The significance was the same as
“Peter”, see Matthew 16.
  Some have taken this to mean that Paul may have taken some initiative in seeing
to it that money made its way from Antioch to Jerusalem.
Conclusion:                                                                            That statement is meant to link together salvation and Christian
                                                                                behavior. And they should be linked. But HOW should they be linked?
        NO! And here‟s the difference between what the apostles agreed on
in Jerusalem - remember the poor - and the sharp dispute over Titus‟                      The presence of the word “cannot” implies something. It implies
circumcision.                                                                   that if a person is saved, then his or her behavior will - without question
                                                                                (and without exception?) - be godly.
       The false brethren who were urging circumcision were saying that
taking that action was necessary for getting saved, for staying saved, or for           A number of us on the Board argued for different wording. Rather
staying right with God.                                                         than “cannot”, we urged that the statement read,
       The apostles who were urging each other to care for the poor were
saying that taking that action just made sense, given who they were -           “We believe that God‟s justifying grace must not be separated from His
redeemed people who have feasted at the banquet table of God‟s grace.           sanctifying power and purpose.”

       One sets behavior as a condition for getting saved. The other sets                 In that wording, Christian behavior is not a condition. It is an
behavior as an important, reasonable response to having been saved.             exhortation. Right living is so important that we should by all means pursue
                                                                                it - and for all kinds of reasons!
        Over the course of our time studying Paul‟s letter to the Galatians
we will have opportunity to think a lot about behavior. Behavior is                    We should live the way the Bible tells us to because of who we are
important. But good behavior is not a condition of salvation and bad            (redeemed people), because of what we have received (God‟s grace), and
behavior is not necessarily a sign that someone is not saved…                   because of what we will receive (treasure for ourselves in Heaven)!

        I‟ll close with this brief story.                                               But the Bible never tells us that we are to live rightly to prove that
                                                                                we are Christians or to become Christians or to stay Christians!
         Over the course of my six years serving on the Board of Directors
for the EFCA, I had the privilege of being a part of the team that put                   The Bible says that we are saved through faith alone in Christ alone
together a new Statement of Faith for our movement.                             - no “ifs” “ands” or “buts” about it! And no “by the ways…” about it,
         What a tremendous experience! Believe me, I thoroughly enjoyed
getting all theological and working hard to make our Statement of Faith say             How freeing to realize that after we place our trust in Jesus, God
what we wanted it to say.                                                       doesn‟t change the way He dealt with us prior to saving us!

        One of the most interesting discussions came as we considered                   He wooed us by love and grace. He keeps on dealing with us in
“Christian living” a topic that is not usually even considered in doctrinal     love and grace.
statements. We all felt that it was important to address it, though.

        The original proposal for the Board to consider read this way:

“We believe that God‟s justifying grace cannot be separated from His
sanctifying power and purpose.”

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